Not Fade Away

December 15, 2009

A few days ago I happened to hear one of The Rolling Stones’ early hits: the Buddy Holly classic “Not Fade Away.” Besides making me appreciate, as always, the great drumming of long-time Gretsch endorser Charlie Watts, that song, and its title, brought to mind a question that drummers have asked me many times over the years: "Why do some drum finishes fade or lose color over time, and what can be done about it?"

At Gretsch, we take great pride in the beautiful lacquer finishes on our drums. We think our unique nitrocellulose covered finishes are pretty nifty, too. So it's just as important to us that those finishes look good for many years as it is to the drummers who own the kits.

The single biggest cause of drum-finish “fade” is light—specifically, ultra-violet rays. That’s right: The same rays that can give you a nasty sunburn can make a drum's finish lose its color over time.

Additional culprits include environmental agents like cigarette smoke and the kitchen fumes common in clubs that serve food. Not only do these agents settle on drums and create a dulling film, they also contain chemicals that can penetrate a finish and bleach out its color. Fortunately, many clubs and other performance venues have become smoke-free in recent years. But a lot of drumkits spent long hours in smoke-filled rooms before this environmental advancement took place.

Once a finish has faded, it's virtually impossible to bring it back to its original condition. So prevention is the best course. Fortunately, it's also very easy. You just need to protect your drums from the fading effect of UV rays and environmental agents.

This can be accomplished by covering your drums with a cloth sheet or dropcloth when they're set up, and casing or bagging them up when they're not. And this doesn't just apply to gigging situations. You’d be surprised how many drums have “fade spots” on one side from being set up or stacked near a window at home!

Take these simple precautions, and your Gretsch drums should retain their beautiful appearance for many years to come.

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Gretsch Marquee Series

New from Gretsch® Drums, the Marquee series delivers explosive, open tones, professional features and rock solid performance at an accessible price. Marquee shells combine 7-ply North American maple with a slight softer maple species that are cut with classic Gretsch 30-degree bearing edges and fit with 2.3mm triple flanged hoops.

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